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Bacterial Wet wood: Knowing the Signs and Symptoms

Bacterial Wet wood is a terminology which is used to describe a disease that affects the bark of many different trees. The disease is mostly seen in cottonwood, elm, aspen and willow trees. The disease also has the ability to infect species of ash, cherry, apple, maple, oak, poplars and plum trees. There are several types of bacteria that can cause wet wood. Some of those include the species of Kielbasi, Pseudomonas and Enterobacter.  Call Kyle Tree Service

Since the bacteria listed are fairly common in soil, most experts proclaim that root wounds may be the primary source of entry. Commonly referred to as slime flux, the disease can cause a sour smelling liquid to seep out of the tree. Experts theorize that the liquid and gases which are produced as a result of the fermentation actions of bacteria, is the major reason why. Let’s take a look at some symptoms to be aware of when it comes to diagnosing this disease. 

1) Discoloration

The symptoms associated with this disorder include a brown-yellowish discoloration of the tree, which is usually confined to the core of the tree. The affected area is usually wetter than the surrounding area and is under high gas pressure. This buildup of pressure is as a result of the fermentation activity of the bacteria. 

2) White Crust 

In elm trees, this buildup of gas, mainly consists of nitrogen and methane. As a result of this, the gas pressure in combination with high moisture content a lead to a foul-smelling discharge which gets colonized by yeast as soon as it gets exposed to air. As the slime dries up, it leaves a white crust around the affected area. 

3) Retard Callus Formation 

This slime can prevent callus formation, as the diseases essentially wounds the tree by destroying the cambium, which is the tissue that lies between the wood and the inner bark. 

4) Cracks 

Another sign to look out for are radial cracks that may manifest themselves around the soft, wet, affected area. These racks tend to develop in wintertime and extend to the cambium. They basically operate as highways that enable the gas and slime to escape.

5) Dead Foliage 

This toxic slime has the potential to destroy any plant-life it touches. As such, another tell-tale sign are dead young shoots, grass and foliage around the tree, which have come into contact with this slime.

6) Roots 

In some instances, you may be able to see some portions of the tree’s roots. Root tissue can show signs of wetwood infection in the form of brown streaks which run from the core of the tree, through the trunks and subsequently the roots. 


In the past, homeowners used to drill a hole inside the tree so that they can relive some pressure. However, emerging research has consistently demonstrated that this leads to more damage, and ultimately facilitates the spreading of the disease. As such, if you notice any of these signs you should contact a tree care specialist so that they can work quickly to alleviate the problem. 

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